6. JAMAL CRAWFORD
Crawford’s initial inspiration came from Tim Hardaway, who was such a killer with the rock in his prime we nearly put him on this list despite morphing into a knuckle ball-shooting backup who barely played by the turn of the century. Crawford says he learned from Isiah Thomas too, even all the way up through their time with the Knicks – Crawford as the player, Thomas as the GM – when Isiah would occasionally make appearances at practice.
Crawford has a gift, and no player in the league is more universally known for their handle. Seriously, take away his crossover, and what do you have? He probably becomes just another decent player lost in time. But because of his gift, kids love him so much they convinced the developers of the NBA 2K series to give him his own signature dribbling package.
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Crawford’s ankle-tweaking moves are so well known they even break rules. Normally, you can’t give yourself a nickname (unless you’re Kobe, and even that was pushing it). That’s somewhere between taking a charge on LeBron and challenging Jerry Stackhouse to a fist fight in the “Things you shouldn’t do if you’re an NBA player” list. But now Crawford uses it as his Twitter name, and not a damn thing is said about it.
We also can’t forget the “Shake and Bake” move the current Clipper invented out of nowhere to turn Kirk Hinrich and Deron Williams into statues. It defies all description. Ricky Bobby and Cal Naughton, Jr. glamorized their own “Shake and Bake” move, but Crawford’s version can’t be imitated.